I recently tuned into a webinar hosted by banking and FinTech expert Chris Skinner. He’s a very clear and compelling speaker so always worth seeking out.
He talked about how the digital sphere is disrupting and reinventing the banking experience as evidenced in part by the plethora of new start-ups. Nothing new there of course; for the traditional financial institutions, however, there is still a long way to go. It is mildly alarming to consider that too many senior banking execs only seem to be hearing the fundamental issues that Chris shared a decade ago for the first time.
Whilst apps and well-designed mobile and online banking services are a step in the right direction, this does not remotely mean that a bank has ‘done digital’. They represent nothing more than applying some tech and experience to a traditional business model and this does not embrace the new opportunity for the industry to facilitate financial agility for consumers and businesses alike in today’s high-tech, mobile world. If nothing else Airbnb and Uber have demonstrated that you don’t necessarily need to own all the assets and people involved…merely to be able to think strategically and be clever in how you connect them.
It made me reflect on our own business and how our work with financial services clients like Lloyds Banking Group has evolved over the last 20 years. In a time of transformational revolution, how big and bold should our thinking be? Just like the large enterprises who are expected to turn on a sixpence (or should that be Bitcoin!), I believe we need to be vigilant and able to adapt with pace…but without the level of recklessness that could be associated with ‘revolution’!
So, what’s required to make a bank truly digital?
There are plenty of technical requirements, skills, and constraints of course; but I see 5 essential conditions or ambitions that are necessary ingredients:
- Digitally literate and committed executives. Only 6% of bank board directors have any tech experience and 40% of Bank Boardrooms have no technologists*
- Pursuit of a genuinely excellent and easy to use customer experience
- Technical competence to provide appropriate connectivity: apps, online and mobile banking
- Collaborative working. Within the bank itself, breaking away from traditional silos and adopting more agile ways of working
- A strong command of data. To facilitate welcome personalisation as we all seek the perfect blend of relevant, timely and targeted dialogue without being intrusive.
If you’re curious, have a look at:
- solarisBank – who describe themselves as ‘a tech company with a banking licence!’
- Clear Bank – who claim to be the UK’s first new clearing bank in 250 years, that will transform how the UK’s £82trillion of payments are made each year.
- Leveris – a ready-made ‘Banking as a Service’ platform for new entrants to use.
- Ant Financial – a Chinese tech company founded in 2014 with an ambition to have 2bn users by 2025.